✖️ The value & values of music and musicians – on human economies
And: The Crypto Music Industry; SZA's fan base advisory board; The problem with music sharing; I DAO'ed; Web3 Renaissance; Instant gaming platforms; 2021 was a good year for music
If you read a lot about music, especially the music business, it’s difficult to escape the impression that it’s all about value and the creation thereof. Large catalog sales, investments in start-ups, artists fighting to take ownership of the full value of their own master and/or publishing rights, etc. are all run of the mill headlines. There’s two issues at play here:
What exactly is value in all of these stories?
What is missing from these conversations?
To answer the first question: value is usually expressed in the economic definition – how much are people willing to pay – or give up – to get something. However, there’s often also an indication that it should be about values, in the sociological definition: what is good, or what is desirable? It’s that second idea of values that I will focus on here. Moreover, I’ll show how people – human beings – are what’s missing from discussions around value in music and often even in the production of music.
(If you’ve never clicked on this link, just a note that everything Bas and I write for MUSIC x is freely available, without a paywall) Happy holidays to you all!
⛓️ The Crypto Music Industry (Dan Fowler)
A really important piece here, that takes the fact that Web3 is crypto head on. If music wants to thrive in this new space, they should also confront that head on.
“This piece presents a framework on which to analyse the emerging Crypto Music industry, leading to a suggestion around the most effective areas to place bets; of time, effort, or investment; on its success. It’s my attempt to try to position what is happening now in a longer term view, and while you may be skeptical around where it is all heading, and whether Crypto Music is a good idea at all, hopefully it will provide some useful guidelines on intent, direction, and progress.”
🕹️ Tapping the potential of instant gaming platforms (Michael Hudson)
“Technology has enabled almost frictionless access to music and video content in a way that isn’t yet a reality for gamers. But, increasingly, top-tier gaming content is something that they can find on the platforms they are already spending time on or via a couple of mouse clicks in a browser. Whether the greatest market share is eventually achieved by social platforms like Snap, off-blockchain social-gaming metaverses like Roblox or blockchain gaming platforms such as Axie Infinity remains to be seen, but the opportunities of instantaneous content flows among vast, engaged audiences are potentially game-changing for publishers.”
🖖 The problem with music sharing (Marc Brown)
“Another group of people who regularly think about music discovery are those who help promote new music more than most. The media; writers and DJs, highlight the best music in print, online and on the radio (yes, still very important!) … Again, this is not a new problem. The transition to digital has been a struggle for anyone who has to try and manage the deluge of files and streams delivered every minute of every day.”
Full report from BYTA on music sharing is here.
🔮 Framing the Future of Web 3.0: Metaverse Edition (Eric Sheridan et al)
“Below we outline existing and potential use cases for music, retail, education, and advertising as well as the existing market opportunity and digital penetration in an effort to better understand what the potential opportunity is by segment. As can be seen in Exhibit 18, advertising and music have seen the highest levels of digital penetration while retail and education lag behind. In the following sections we outline Roblox’s efforts and adoption by brands, music, and education. Similar to the current digital penetration rates outlined below, Roblox has seen more adoption by brands/artists while education is still in early phases.”
🧭 The Web3 Renaissance: A Golden Age for Content (Li Jin & Katie Parrot)
“The business model of advertising has profoundly shaped how platforms design their products. Views are funneled to content and creators that are already popular, creating a power law in success. Data about user preferences and behavior is the platforms’ most valuable asset, so they close off their ecosystems and lock users into their networks to amass the largest corpus of proprietary data.”
🎯 How SZA is building a model for fan base advisory boards (Tatiana Cirisano)
“By using her fans as a testing ground while still retaining ultimate control of her art, SZA is accomplishing three important things:
Avoiding the 24/7 content creation cycle by concentrating resources on the best ideas.
Fine-tuning her music by using her fans as quasi-A&Rs.
Creating a deep sense of engagement and belonging among her fans. SZA is a massive star, yet she treats her fans like friends, and she is rewarded for that in streams, sales and social media buzz.”
💡 2021 Was A Good Year For Music. Here’s Why 2022 Will Be Even Better (Shain Shapiro)
“What will change is still to be seen, but the fact that the rights of artists and songwriters have become more of a priority in 2021 is worth celebrating … 2021 has also seen positives in terms of making the sector more diverse.”
🧑🏾🤝🧑🏾 Innovative Direct-to-Fans Business Models for Creators (Mathilde Neu)
“Many platforms and new digital strategies means that creators can access their communities from several places at a time. The focus has shifted from a sales-focused model to a people-focused model. This means more management on administrative tasks, whether its files to share with the rest of music services providers or royalty accounting for professionals.”
👏 I DAO’ed (Brodie Conley)
In the spirit of openness, I worked with Brodie Conley on the recent Water & Music Season 1 collaborative research report. He explains here why and how he got involved and what it means to this style of collaborative research.
“This process was not unlike other research projects I have been involved in: a group of smart folks coming together to share brainpower and produce a research product. However, the radical openness of the process was much different.”
⚒️ 2022 MIDiA predictions: the year of the creator (Mark Mulligan)
“Prior to the digital era, content could only be consumed passively in a one-way stream from distributor, through a designated channel, to a listener, viewer or player consuming on their own in a limited number of contexts. This one-way style is ‘lean-back’. Digital has prompted ‘lean-in’ behaviour, where consumers can engage with content by multitasking – socialising with friends online, researching the franchise, or following on other forms of the same IP. Now, creator tools are prompting a third method: ‘lean-out’.”
Some lovely music by Nils Frahm to close out the year from me since I’m taking next week off. If it gets too much over the next week or weeks, just put this record on and let the sounds smooth you over into a world of silence punctuated by a piano, some melodies, and a John Cage cover.